Rousseau´s Solution to ¨The Fundamental Problem¨

1178 Words Jun 15th, 2018 5 Pages
The problem is to find a form of association … in which each, while uniting himself with all, may still obey himself alone, and remain as free as before.’
Does Rousseau have a convincing solution to the problem he poses?

The opening line of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's influential work 'The Social Contract' (1762), is 'man is born free, and he is everywhere in chains. Those who think themselves masters of others are indeed greater slaves than they'. These are not physical chains, but psychological and means that all men are constraints of the laws they are subjected to, and that they are forced into a false liberty, irrespective of class. This goes against Rousseau's theory of general will which is at the heart of his philosophy. In
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In Plato's 'Crito', Socrates chose not to escape prison because he had chosen to reside in Athens, by doing so he accepted the terms on the implied contract. In Hobbes 'Leviathan', his social contract view concluded that all individuals, to avoid an anarchic state of nature should give up their individualistic rights to a ruler or rulers in return for safety under the laws imposed by the ruler. Locke in his 'second treatise on civil government' differed slightly from Hobbes, by concluded that individuals in a state of nature would cohere and provide a neutral entity that would protect lives and property by introducing laws. David Hume was a critic of Hobbes and Lockes versions of the social contract. Firstly he points out that there had never been a situation called the state of nature' and that no-one had consented to a social contract, mainly because the social contract was purely hypothetical. 'Almost all governments that exist at present...have been founded either on usurpation or conquest, or both, without any pretence of a fair consent or voluntary subjection of the people' (Hume extract line 81-83). A friend of Rousseau's, Hume did agree that it did not matter how a government was formed, it can only rest if it has the legitimate foundation of the peoples it governs consent.

This solution where a democratic government is in place, means that individuals can vote and have their individual concerns used to influence decisions made
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